Chelsea’s recent victory over Crystal Palace felt like the turning of a corner after a dreadful run of form, and Blues boss Graham Potter has been further boosted by some welcome injury news regarding Wesley Fofana.
According to Football London, Chelsea might have the £75m summer signing from Leicester City at their disposal shortly after the pivotal Premier League clash against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, with the outlet relaying imagery depicting the centre-back beaming in his club’s training gear.
Fofana has missed 18 games this season as a result of his fitness setbacks, and his presence in defence has been sorely missed. That is evidenced by the team’s recent slump in form, with their recent victory over Palace following a sour period of seven defeats from ten matches across all competitions.
His impending return could provide the stability and vibrancy from the back which will pay dividends in the pursuit of brighter prospects across the second half of the campaign. It will also offer a welcome relief for a manager who has had to contend with a vast number of injuries throughout the squad.
Due to his injury troubles, Fofana has only made four appearances this season, scoring one goal. However, his return signifies a possible turning of the tide for Chelsea, with the hope being that the awful form which has left the club in tenth place in the league table swiftly becomes a thing of the past.
Although the Blues have fallen well short of expectations so far this season, there is an abundance of quality at Potter’s disposal; and as the cogs fall into place, Fofana could be a core component throughout the rest of 2022/23, having previously been tipped to become a “top player” by Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers.
It’s in the Champions League that the young Frenchman has enjoyed his standout performances for Chelsea, recording an average rating of 7.35 across his two appearances against Dinamo Zagreb and AC Milan, as per Sofascore.
Completing 87% of his passes across those two games, Fofana averaged one key pass per match, with his alliance of creative flair and a direct threat surely a large factor in prompting Chelsea to sign him last summer. Additionally, having made three tackles per game and completed 100% of his dribbles, the 22-year-old is already developing into a refined and all-encompassing defensive operator.
Over the past year, the “beast” that is Fofana – as previously hailed by broadcaster Arlo White – ranks within the top 5% of defenders in Europe’s big five leagues for passes attempted, the top 13% for dribbles completed, the top 7% for interceptions and the top 18% for tackles completed (as per FBref).
This illustrates a player who routinely excels in his core defensive duties while also being remarkably comfortable in possession for a centre-back.
With Kalidou Koulibaly receiving criticism of late following his £33m move from Napoli last summer, Fofana could now form a defensive partnership with veteran stalwart Thiago Silva, a prospect which will surely delight his manager.